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Slow Cooker Meatloaf

Classic American comfort food doesn’t get much better than meatloaf. It’s hearty, packed with flavour and goes perfectly with mashed potatoes. What’s better than that?! Slow Cooker Meatloaf is a brilliant dish to serve up as a warming weeknight family meal or as a table centrepiece at the weekend.

Sliced Meatloaf with mashed potato and vegetables.

History of Meatloaf

Meatloaf is commonly heard of in the US as a staple family dish, which became the case during WWII as it allowed families to feed more mouths with less precious meat. At the time, the recipe commonly contained beef, pork and liver.

Following the war, the taste was refined, the liver dropped, Betty Crocker produced a recipe, and meatloaf was here to stay! 

Ask any American now and you’ll be told that their meatloaf recipe is the best you’ll ever find (very much like my slow cooker joint of beef is the best you’ll ever find). Meatloaf is one of those meals where everyone has their own recipe.

Over our side of the Atlantic it’s not quite as mainstream, but if you enjoy sausages, meatballs and other minced (ground) meat dishes this is a fantastic recipe to try. It’s satisfying to eat, but also makes a great looking dish if you’re cooking to impress.

Slow Cooker Meatloaf cut into slices.

What makes a great tasting slow cooker meatloaf?

Two things affect how well a meatloaf recipe turns out – seasoning and moisture. Making a great slow cooker meatloaf is a case of infusing the meat with flavour (plenty of herbs and seasoning!) and ensuring it remains soft and juicy throughout cooking.

As a slow cooker cooks low and slow, and the cooking pot is sealed (thereby trapping in moisture and flavour!) – it’s the perfect way to cook meatloaf.

Close up picture of meatloaf made in the Crockpot.

What ingredients do I need?

The great thing about crockpot meatloaf is that you’ll likely to have all of the ingredients already in the cupboard.

All of the ingredients required to make slow cooked meatloaf

Meatloaf is always served with the all-important glaze. It really enhances both the moisture and taste, and it looks great!

Close up view of Meatloaf with tomato glaze.

How to slow cook Meatloaf

Start by preparing the dry ingredients (herbs, spices, onion, breadcrumbs) and mixing them together with the minced meat, stock, eggs and milk. It’ll look a lot like sausage meat once combined.

Next, you need to shape the mixture into your meatloaf – get stuck in and get your hands dirty! If you have children, this is a fun part to get them to help. Mix up the glaze, and generously cover the meatloaf in it.

The glaze really helps to keep the meatloaf moist, looks great, and adds buckets of flavour!

Diagram showing the steps to make Meatloaf in the Slow Cooker (part one).

Follow up by wrapping the glazed meatloaf firmly in the foil and fold to seal both ends. Don’t be tempted to twist the ends, this will prevent the foil ripping.

Next is the top secret Slow Cooker Club trick. With a few more strips of foil create a trivet for the bottom of the pot and place the wrapped meatloaf on top.

This lifts it off of the top of the slow cooker to prevent it drying out, and allows juices to drain.

Diagram to show steps to make meatloaf in the slow cooker Meatloaf (part two).

Now you just need to turn on the slow cooker, and wait!

How to stop a meatloaf drying out?

There are a few tricks that will prevent a dry meatloaf:

  • Breadcrumbs are added to the mix, which retain moisture from the wet ingredients.
  • Milk mixed with stock adds tonnes of moisture, which is spread and held throughout the meatloaf by the breadcrumbs.
  • Lift the meatloaf off of the bottom of the slow cooker pot, either using our method with tinfoil, or by adding a trivet to the bottom of the slow cooker and placing the meatloaf on top.

What should I serve with slow cooker meatloaf?

The traditional way of serving meatloaf is on a bed of creamy mash potato with a pile of freshly steamed veg. Yum!

Alternatively, slow cooker mac and cheese works brilliantly for a super-filling pairing.

More Hearty Slow Cooker Recipes

If you like the look of this meatloaf recipe, try these other hearty and delicious recipes:

Overhead view of Slow Cooker Meatloaf with potatoes and vegetables.

How to use leftover meatloaf?

Meatloaf can be kept in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container, ensure it’s reheated thoroughly before serving.

If you fancy something other than meatloaf and mash potatoes:

  • Cut into thin slices for a super tasty warm baguette sandwich.
  • Slice into chunks and add to a homemade slow cooker pizza!
Slices of slow cooker meatloaf on a bed of mash and green beans

Slow Cooker Meatloaf

Slow Cooker Meatloaf is a succulent and hearty blend of minced pork and beef with fragrant herbs and a rich and tangy glaze.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 619 kcal

Ingredients
 

Meatloaf

  • 500 g (1 lb) beef mince
  • 500 g (1 lb) pork mince
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 40 g ( cup) breadcrumbs 1 slice bread
  • 1 onion grated
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 50 ml (¼ cup) milk
  • tsp oregano dried or fresh
  • tsp basil dried or fresh
  • tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp mild chilli powder mild
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper ground
  • 15 g parsley Flat leaf parsley

Glaze

  • 6 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic granules finely ground
  • tbsp cider vinegar

Instructions
 

  • Remove the parsley stems and chop the leaves (this will make around 2 tbsp of freshly chopped parsley), finely grate the raw onion and mince the garlic cloves. This can be done quickly in a mini food processor.
  • Add the parsley, onion, breadcrumbs and garlic to a large mixing bowl and combine with the dry herbs, spices (chilli and paprika), salt and pepper. Stir everything through and then add the pork and beef mince. In a separate bowl mix the ingredients for the glaze, and set aside.
  • Warm the milk in a jug and crumble in the beef stock cube, stir well until dissolved. Add to the meat and herbs along with the beaten eggs. Mix everything together well – it's easiest (and most fun!) to do this with your hands. The mixture will now be moist and holding together, and will look like sausage meat ready to be shaped into meatloaf.
  • Take a piece of foil approx 50 x 30 cm (20 x 12 inches) and place the meatloaf mixture in the centre. Shape the mixture into a loaf with your hands ensuring the length will fit into your slow cooker. Press the edges firmly to compact the loaf and close any cracks in the edges, then cover the top of the meatloaf generously in glaze mixture. Wrap the meatloaf tightly in the sheet of foil, folding the ends (rather than twisting) to ensure they don't rip. Pierce each end with a skewer to allow juices to drain.
  • Cut three sheets of aluminium foil the length of your slow cooker, roll them up and place them in the bottom of the cooking pot to form a rack. Alternatively if you have a trivet or small wire rack that'll fit in your slow cooker – use this instead! Place the meatloaf onto the rack and cook on low for 4 hours.
  • When the meatloaf is cooked the juices will run clear, and it'll be firm and slightly browned. As an additional check, unwrap the meatloaf at the top and insert a meat thermometer into the centre – it should read at least 75°C (165°F).
  • Remove the meatloaf from the pot, unwrap it and brush with the remaining glaze. Allow the meatloaf to rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving with mashed potatoes and freshly cooked vegetables.

Notes

Preparation

To prepare the dry ingredients for the meatloaf we used the Cusinart Mini Food Processor. This is a great time saving tool for finely chopping and pulsing herbs, garlic and onion, as well as making breadcrumbs.

How do I know when it’s cooked?

We recommend using a meat thermometer as it’s difficult to tell without fully unwrapping it, and every slow cooker is different. The temperature in the middle should be 75C (165F) when it’s ready. We’ve linked a thermometer we recommend in the equipment list.

Mince (ground) meat

Some meatloaf recipes state that you shouldn’t use low fat content mince. We’ve tested and found that in a slow cooker it makes very little difference.

How thick should the slices be?

Around 2cm (0.75inch) is about the right thickness to ensure each slice stays intact and everyone gets a good helping!

Breadcrumbs

Make your own breadcrumbs by toasting a slice of bread, allowing it to cool and finely grating.

Gluten Free

Use gluten free breadcrumbs if you follow a gluten free diet.

Nutrition

Calories: 619kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 39gFat: 44gSaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 226mgSodium: 1197mgPotassium: 777mgFiber: 2gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 1378IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 82mgIron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Recipe Rating




Hayley Barkla

Saturday 12th of December 2020

Hello, can leftovers be frozen? If so how best to store (so one serving can be taken out at a time) and how long could they be in freezer?

Karen Kelly

Tuesday 3rd of November 2020

This meatloaf is amazing! Recipe is very easy to follow (especially for someone who doesn't cook often) and it's delicious! The glaze is truly delicious as well. Compliments the flavors in the meatloaf so nicely! My family is looking forward to having it again soon!

Bec

Wednesday 4th of November 2020

Thanks for the review and glad you enjoyed it!